Guest Blogged by DES...
From The Associated Press:
Voting along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee said that Rove had broke the law by failing to appear at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether Rove encouraged prosecutions against Democrats.
The committee decision is only a recommendation, and it was unclear whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would allow a final vote. Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
...Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
The White House's opinion that advisers cannot be compelled to testify does not address whether or not the witness is nonetheless required to appear in response to a subpoena. From Congress.
It remains to be seen whether Congressional Democrats will actually assert authority and re-establish parity as a co-equal branch of the federal government under the Constitution, or if this is just more sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Last February the full House voted to hold White House officials Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress. They have failed to enforce that vote, which passed 223 to 32, and AG Mukasey has said he would not enforce the House's contempt finding.
Last December, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended finding Rove in contempt in a bi-partisan 12 to 7 vote, during which Republican Arlen Specter noted "we have no alternative," given Rove's snub of the subpoenas issued by the panel.
Despite the endorsement from even two Republicans on the committee, Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid has failed to bring the recommendation to the full Senate for a vote. Will Pelosi hold the House committee's endorsement (and the will of the American people, and the Rule of Law) in similar contempt?
UPDATE FROM BRAD: In addition to the Committee's finding of contempt, the resolution passed today also recommends an interesting additional course of action recommended for the House, as noted in the Resolution's markup memo [WORD] that we received from the House Judiciary this morning...
In addition to finding Rove in contempt, the resolution also recommends "that the House pursue other legal remedies to enforce the outstanding subpoena as appropriate."
What "other legal remedies" might mean is not detailed, but in June, members of the Committee hinted at "consequences" that might extend beyond Contempt findings. Rep. Linda Sanchez noted at the time that "we really need to set our foot down and show there are consequences to people who laugh in the face of Congressional subpoenas."
The 22-page, well-documented markup memo for the Resolution includes findings that describe Rove's involvement in the U.S. Attorney purge, the Siegelman prosecution, and so on, and offers the Committee's argument for their belief that Rove's claim of Executive Privilege based immunity from subpoena is "not legally valid." Among the reasons, they argue, is that the Executive Privilege claim was never actually asserted by Bush, despite "The courts hav[ing] stated that a personal assertion of Executive Privilege by the President is legally required for the privilege claim to be valid."
In additional compelling argument from the Committee, they argue that "the White House has maintained that the President never received any advice on, and was not himself involved in, the forced resignations of the U.S. Attorneys," [emphasis in original] and that similarly "there has been no suggestion that the President was personally involved in the Siegelman matter." Therefore, they contend, there are no communications from advisers on these matters that would be covered by "the presidential communications privilege," even presuming such a privilege was found by the courts to shield Rove from having to testify, or even to simply appear.
The question Des asked, however, still remains. What "consequences," if any, will actually come about, and what "other legal remedies," if any, will actually be pursued by the House, if, that is, Pelosi even allows the recommendation onto the floor for a full vote, as Reid, her counterpart in the Senate, has so far failed to do.
We've got an inquiry in to the Judiciary Committee to see if we can learn what is meant by "other legal remedies," and will update if we are able to receive a substantive reply.